GBL: Legal consequences

Last modified: Sunday, 31. May 2009 - 3:46 pm

In California, a chiropractor who distributed liquids containing GHB at a party, causing other partygoers to get sick, was punished with a $2,000 fine and imprisonment. In Michigan, four men were accused of manslaughter and poisoning when they slipped GHB or GBL into a ninth-grader’s drink, causing her to vomit, go into a coma, and die. Manslaughter carries a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison, and poisoning carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.
Both the FDA and the U.S. Department of Justice have ongoing criminal enforcement actions against GHB. As of 2000, the government had investigated 850 incidents involving GHB, including 124 cases of large-scale interstate manufacture and distribution of GHB, 150 clandestine laboratories, and 500 seized and analyzed laboratory exhibits. There have been more than 33 GHB-related convictions.

Legal history

In 1990, based on more than 30 reports of illness linked to GHB, the FDA banned its use except in the carefully controlled environment of agency-approved drug studies. In January 1999, the FDA requested a voluntary recall of all GBL-containing products sold in health food stores and warned the public of its abuse potential and danger to public health. It is now illegal to sell anything for human consumption that contains GBL, GHB, or BD.

Federal guidelines, regulations, and penalties

GHB is already classified as a controlled substance by more than 20 states, and some other states also impose criminal penalties for possession of GHB. If Congress classifies GHB as a controlled substance, marketing the drug illegally would subject the offender to federal penalties, including imprisonment and fines.
GBL became a Schedule II substance in California effective January 1, 2000. In that state, possession of GBL or GHB is an alternate felony/misdemeanor, punishable by 16 months or two or three years in the state prison, or up to one year in the county jail. Possession for sale is a felony, punishable by 16 months, two years, or three years in state prison. Sale or transportation is a felony punishable by a state prison term of two, three, or four years. Transportation between non-neighboring counties is a felony punishable by incarceration in state prison for three, six, or nine years.
On February 18, 2000, GBL became a List I chemical, subject to the criminal, civil, and administrative sanctions of the CSA. This legislation, Public Law 106-172, was named the Hillary Farias and Samantha Reid Date-Rape Prohibition Act of 1999 for the two Michigan girls poisoned with GBL, one fatally.

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